The Zero Position, also referred to as a featured snippet, is the information Google offers at the very top of the search results. This information most closely answers the question posed by the user.
Since the dawn of search engines, we all pursued the #1 organic position on Google search engine results pages. But over the last several years, Google has placed results above that spot and even way beyond ads, in instant answers, featured snippets, definitions, and more.
We call all this new content real estate the Zero Position.
What does this mean for your SEO strategy? Read on.
What is within the Zero Position?
The Zero Position already takes many forms, and Google experiments with new types every day. Knowledge Graphs, carousels, measurements, definitions, and local packs all currently occupy the zero position. However, it is the Featured Snippets and People Also Ask boxes that should occupy the center of your Zero Position strategy.
What is a Featured Snippet?
Featured snippets answer – usually directly answer – user questions. They generally come with some additional information and the URL of the source of the content. There are many types of Featured Snippets. The intent of the query determines the type of Featured Snippet that is returned.
For example, if the keyword asks “How to” do something, the featured snippet will return the first steps in a process and a link to learn more:
If the keyword includes the phrase “what is,” the featured snippet will supply a brief answer and a link to learn more:
People Also Ask Boxes
People Also Ask, an additional item from Google, frequently appears under the featured snippet. People Also Ask provides users with related questions to put into Google to get additional results, including different featured snippets. In the Taco example, the People Also Ask box includes:
Each question within the Peopled Also Ask box opens another featured snippet, usually coming from a different website. If the SERP has four additional questions, one keyword could yield five separate Featured Snippets.
Where does the Zero Position content come from?
The most important thing to know about the Zero Position is that the content comes from the pages listed within the traditional organic results on the search engine results pages.
If your content is already ranking high on the first page, you’re poised to take over the Zero Position. Typically, Featured Snippet opportunities comes from organic search results in positions 2 through 4. So you may not even need to be #1 on Google to crack Zero Position.
How do you get into the Featured Snippets?
The first step in getting into Featured Snippets is to consider your keyword topics. What keywords do you want to rank for? What keywords do you currently rank for? Once you determine your keyword topics, find the questions people are asking that relate to your topics.
For example, if you sell frying pans, you probably have historically wanted to rank for high search volume keywords, such as:
- Best frying pans
- Frying pans for sale
For a strategy aimed at getting the sale right away, these keywords make sense. However, for a Zero Position strategy, you need to move beyond these keywords and focus on the questions people are asking, such as:
- What frying pan is healthy?
- How are frying pans made?
- Can frying pans go in the dishwasher?
Put these questions into Google and they will each return a featured snippet. Once you have a list of questions you want to rank for, you can develop content to answer those questions.
How to Optimize your content for Featured Snippets?
Your content must rank on the first page of Google to show up in the featured snippet. So will need to take the time to optimize your content. The first step is to take a look at what is already ranking high for your target questions. Are the featured snippets and first page results in the form of a list? A process? A blog post? How long are they? What keywords do they include?
Analyzing the top results for your target query can give you great insight into how you can format your content so that Google will give it a high ranking.
Once you write your content, it is back to SEO basics. Make sure you optimize your page title and meta description. Include your new content in the XML sitemap, and fetch the content in Search Console. Incorporate your new content into your link building strategy.
Remember, SEO takes time, and a Zero Position strategy will not produce results overnight. But the more you focus on creating content to answer users’ specific questions, the larger your keyword universe will be and the more Google will see you as an authority in your space.